Supervisor Matt Haney wins Assembly District 17 race

Initial returns show Haney earned nearly 64% of the votes, compared to 36% for David Campos

Next stop, Sacramento.

San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney’s swift political rise continued on Tuesday, as he defeated former Supervisor David Campos in a bid to represent a large portion of The City in the state Assembly.

Preliminary results showed Haney holding a commanding lead over Campos.

Haney earned 63% of the 61,965 votes tallied as of Tuesday night, compared to 37% for Campos, a gap that appeared insurmountable.

The boisterous crowd at Haney’s election night party, held at the aptly named Victory Hall, chanted “Haney, Haney, Haney,” as he took the stage shortly after initial results were posted online.

Though results are not yet official, Haney told the crowd the 27-point lead was “about as decisive a victory as you can get,” and highlighted the broad coalition of support he was able to build.

Supporters of Matt Haney cheer following his victory in the Assembly District 17 race at Victory Hall. (Craig Lee/The Examiner)

Supporters of Matt Haney cheer following his victory in the Assembly District 17 race at Victory Hall. (Craig Lee/The Examiner)

He described his campaign as one that addressed issues important to San Franciscans, including housing and homelessness.

“It’s a powerful statement of what it looks like when we actually fight for and listen to a campaign on the things that San Franciscans actually care about,” Haney said.

Campos took to the makeshift stage at El Rio wearing his characteristic bowtie, a speckling of campaign pins, and a sad smile.

“You have moneyed interests that are trying to, esentially, buy San Francisco,” he said. “And I’m sorry to say that tonight, it seems that they were in fact successful.”

His speech harkened back on the campaign’s progressive values: representing a diverse San Francisco and combatting the subversive forces of conservative interests in The City. He criticized Haney as “a vessel” for the interests of election purchasers — offering Haney support to the tune of $3 million.

“But I want to say I am proud of the campaign we have run,” said Campos. “We spoke truth to power, unafraid of the consequences.”

In what became an increasingly contentious race between left-of-center leaders, the two sparred over housing, the city’s efforts to clean up the Tenderloin, and a host of other issues dominating San Francisco headlines.

In addition to one another, the two Democrats faced the challenge of simply educating voters that the race existed and motivating them to cast a ballot in a special general election. As of Tuesday night, voter turnout remained low at about 23% of registered voters in the district.

The 17th Assembly District encompasses roughly the eastern half of the city, as well as Treasure Island, and represents about 500,000 residents.

Haney will replace David Chiu, who vacated the seat to become San Francisco City Attorney. Haney will also be forced to quickly seek election again, this time as an incumbent, as Chiu’s term was set to end in December. The primary election is set for June 7 followed by the Nov. 8 general election, the winner of which will serve a full two-year term.

Matt Haney speaks to supporters after winning the Assembly District 17 seat. (Craig Lee/The Examiner)

Matt Haney speaks to supporters after winning the Assembly District 17 seat. (Craig Lee/The Examiner)

The February primary election signaled the results in the general election could be tight. In that race, Haney bested Campos by less than a percentage point. The third-highest vote getter, Bilal Mahmood, subsequently endorsed Haney, but the nod of approval could not guarantee Mahmood’s supporters would follow his lead.

Haney had a significant edge in fundraising heading into election day, as well as more support in the form of independent expenditures.

Campos served two terms on the Board of Supervisors from 2008 to 2017 was previously the chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party. He took a leave of absence from his position as chief of staff for San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin while running for State Assembly.

In addition to his political resume, Campos touted his personal story as a gay man from Guatemala who crossed the border with his family to the United States when he was 14.

Haney leaned on his record as a legislator and positioned himself as a coalition builder on major initiatives like Mental Health SF, a plan to overhaul the city’s mental health services.

Haney was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2018 after serving on the San Francisco Unified School District’s School Board, including a stint as its president.

David Campos speaks to supporters at El Rio in the Mission District following his loss to Matt Haney for the Assembly District 17 seat on Tuesday, April 19, 2022. (Carmela Guaglianone/The Examiner)

David Campos speaks to supporters at El Rio in the Mission District following his loss to Matt Haney for the Assembly District 17 seat on Tuesday, April 19, 2022. (Carmela Guaglianone/The Examiner)

Campos painted Haney as a candidate backed by developers and realtors, and pointed to his own endorsement from pro-tenant and affordable housing organizations. Haney supporters criticized Campos’ cautious approach to new housing policy as a Supervisor — including an unsuccessful proposal in 2015 to temporarily halt new market-rate housing in the Mission, an idea that Campos has since distanced himself from.

Campos was also targeted for his proximity to Boudin, who is up for a potential recall in June.

Although fairly aligned on many major issues, the two were not above trading barbs on social media – such as when a Campos campaign mailer described Haney as the “Tenderloin Supervisor” in an attempt to link him to the conditions in the neighborhood.

Haney responded that it was a “cynical attempt to use the Tenderloin to play on fear and prejudice, as a way to disparage and malign me.” He went on to describe The Tenderloin as “one of the most diverse, resilient, compassionate neighborhoods in the country.”

Campos replied that “voters should hear about your record in the Tenderloin.”

“Governing is not tweeting — it is doing. And what you have done (or not done) should be front and center in this campaign,” Campos wrote.

Carmela Guaglianone contributed to this report

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